No social services redundancies in Londonderry

SOCIAL Development Minister Margaret Ritchie has promised there will be no job losses in Londonderry as part of a planned modernisation of the Social Security Agency.

The Minister also said that Agency staff would not be forced to travel long distances to their place of work under a planned strategic business review and that face-to-face services would continue to be made available to members of the public at local Jobs and Benefits offices.

Ms Ritchie was addressing concerns raised by Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey that the review would result in job losses in the North West.

Thanking Mr Ramsey for his query on the matter she stated: “On several occasions, I expressed my particular concern that staff should not be required to travel long distances to a new place of work.

“I know that Pat Ramsey was very concerned about that matter, particularly as it may affect people in Derry and in the west. His concerns are well understood, and I am pleased to tell him that I listened to the very strong case that he made.

“I assure him that no member of staff will be required to travel distances such as the distance from Enniskillen to Derry, Derry to Omagh, or vice versa. I think that Members will realise that I have listened to all concerns and have addressed them with a measure of generosity.

“Mr Pat Ramsey also raised the issue of redundancies and staff losses. There will not be any redundancies or staff losses. I also assure the House that those who need face-to-face service at a local social security office will continue to receive it in the future.

“Many of the jobs are in, and many more will be amalgamated into, benefits offices, so I will continue to work in close partnership with the Minister for Employment and Learning to deliver the best possible service and outcomes for customers, who include some of the most disadvantaged and deprived people in Northern Ireland.”